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[pet-ee-koht] /ˈpɛt iˌkoʊt/
Also called pettiskirt. an underskirt, especially one that is full and often trimmed and ruffled and of a decorative fabric.
any skirtlike part or covering.
a flounce or valance fitting around the sides of a bed, couch, or chair, as to conceal the legs.
Informal: Sometimes Offensive. a woman or girl (usually used facetiously).
Informal: Sometimes Offensive. of, relating to, or controlled by women; female; feminine:
petticoat government.
Origin of petticoat
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English petycote. See petty, coat
Related forms
petticoatless, adjective
underpetticoat, noun
Usage note
In reference to a female, this term is usually used for humorous effect, but is sometimes perceived as insulting or demeaning to women. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for petticoat
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We found my child sitting in the chimney-corner, making a petticoat for her little god-daughter out of her own old clothes.

    The Amber Witch Wilhelm Meinhold
  • One of these was the presentation to him of a petticoat as typical of his rule.

    The Story of the Mormons William Alexander Linn
  • As to appearance, petticoat was very pretty, with that fresh rosy beauty that is so attractive.

    Ptomaine Street Carolyn Wells
  • He admired the exaltation of her soul and the lace on her petticoat.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • “In this petticoat, dear, I have quilted the documents,” said Mrs. Vance as she dressed her for her departure.

    A Daughter of the Union Lucy Foster Madison
  • Nurse Rollet covered her with a petticoat and remained standing by her side.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • I saw a few women, and I thought them ugly; they wore a kind of petticoat made of palm-leaves, or some plant like it.

  • But he is under petticoat tyranny and I dread ruffling the petticoat.

  • Her petticoat, made of a couple of large gay handkerchiefs, was worn kilt-wise.

    Curiosities of Superstition W. H. Davenport Adams
British Dictionary definitions for petticoat


a woman's light undergarment in the form of an underskirt or including a bodice supported by shoulder straps
  1. a humorous or mildly disparaging name for a woman
  2. (as modifier): petticoat politics
Word Origin
C15: see petty, coat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for petticoat

early 15c., pety coote, literally "a small coat," from petty + coat (n.). Originally a padded coat worn by men under armor, applied mid-15c. to a garment worn by women and young children. By 1590s, the typical feminine garment, hence a symbol of female sex or character.

Men declare that the petticoatless female has unsexed herself and has left her modesty behind. ["Godey's Magazine," April 1896]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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